Daily Word

Reform 5- Purify priesthood | Nehemiah 13:28-29

28 Even one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, became a son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite, so I chased him away from me. 29 Remember them, my God, because they have defiled the priesthood and the covenant of the priesthood and the Levites.

Take the cake

Another American idiom is, “that takes the cake”, and is most often used sarcastically to mean being the best at something negative. Here we have it. Not only did the people take foreign wives against God’s command (see yesterday) and against bad examples, like Solomon, the priests even did it. Not only that, he married into Sanballat’s family, the other arch-enemy of the Jew’s efforts to build the wall! Now that takes the cake!

Defile the priesthood

We’ve looked at a number of times how the priesthood needs to maintain its purity and holiness. In Zechariah 3:3-5 we saw how the high priest, Joshua, was pictured in a vision as wearing filthy clothes and needing clean ones.

The priest is the intermediary between God and man. Among all men then, he has the opportunity to be closest to God. As such, he had to be more holy than other men. And the high priest had to be the holiest since they actually entered God’s presence one time a year on the Day of Atonement. If he was found with any sin or blemish or uncleanness, he would be killed when he entered the holy of holies in the temple to make the sacrifice. Here’s more on the high priest

Purify the priesthood

Again, Nehemiah took action. He “chased him away”. NLT says, “banished him from my presence” which I think gives a better sense of the severity of the response. 

How do we respond when guilty of sin? We actually are priests. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9 ESV). Do we take immediate action to purify the priesthood, us?

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